TO ELIZABETH WARREN (Late Night Dedication)

Today Warren announced she had taken a DNA test that failed to prove she had any Native American DNA but did “strongly” suggest she had somewhere between 1/64 and 1/1204 Latino DNA (which is now used in DNA samples seeking Native American bloodlines because North American tribes, for any number of good reasons, provide few samples of the genuine article).

Naturally her side proclaimed triumph and the other side mocked her.

I’ll never understand why these people don’t consult with me first. They won’t even have to pay me. I’m like Dustin Hoffman in Wag the Dog. I’d just do it for the fun of it. For a story to tell.

If wannabe President Warren had put herself in my hands, I would have dressed her in the costume Cher is wearing here, rolled out the smoke machines and had her lip-synch the hell out of it.

Crazy you say?

Front runner by Friday I say.

Laugh all you want. Family lore has it I’m either 1/32 or 1/64 Cherokee myself. Never considered myself anything but an American…and I know my people. They’re the ones providing the thunderous applause at the end…

[UPDATE: Some folks are confused by my first sentence. My apologies, as I some times forget I have WAY too much time to follow this stuff. Hence, I make assumptions about what everybody knows that I shouldn’t.

Here’s the nutshell:  Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has been dogged for years by her insistence that she had Native American heritage (and the idea that she used this claim to further her career by registering as a “minority” when, and only when, it would give her a leg up in applying for various positions). In what is probably preparation for a presidential run in 2020, she commissioned a DNA test which ended up in the hands of a famous expert at Stanford University. He assured her she has a Native American ancestor somewhere between six (1/64) and ten (1/1024) generations back (Initial media reports had it between 1/32 and 1/512). If true, this means she has less Native American heritage than the average European American. However, headlines from many Warren-friendly media outlets insisted she had proven her claim. Even most of the stories under those headlines, including this one, acknowledged testing for Native American heritage that far back does NOT produce definitive results. The key graph is here (buried deep here, and in most other, stories):

To make up for the dearth of Native American DNA, Bustamante used samples from Mexico, Peru, and Colombia to stand in for Native American. That’s because scientists believe that the groups Americans refer to as Native American came to this land via the Bering Strait about 12,000 years ago and settled in what’s now America but also migrated further south. His report explained that the use of reference populations whose genetic material has been fully sequenced was designed “for maximal accuracy.”

In other words the “Native American” ancestry Warren claims is just as–if not more–likely to have been Latin American. Had she known, maybe she could have checked Hispanic on all those application forms. Perhaps not surprisingly, the leadership of the Cherokee Nation has rejected Warren’s kinship claims in the strongest possible terms (as they have for decades, this is just the first time most people are hearing about it).

For the record I do not care about Warren’s politics one way or the other. I seek the comedy. Always the comedy!

Cher for President!

19 thoughts on “TO ELIZABETH WARREN (Late Night Dedication)

  1. Confused! I thought her DNA Test proved some small Native American Genes! Glad you have weathered the ‘Storm’ Johnny…Hope this message gets to ya! TCB!

  2. Everyone I know claims they are 1/16 or 1/32 pr 1/64 “Native American” (meaning they’re basically claiming ancient Asian ancestry) .

    Except my family.

    We figure that over the past few hundred years, no tribe we ever came across in seeking our own Manifest Destiny would sleep with the Irish.

    • Well a trace is common. I might actually have some. My Dad’s people got to the Smokies (Cherokee country) in the 1780s (I was able to trace all four branches through a friend of mine who was hooked on genealogy for a while). He spent a good part of his later years trying to prove we were related to a famous Cherokee Chief named John Ross but he concluded we weren’t. He did say he had found our relatives, but I could never make sense of his notes after he died so I have no way of knowing. One thing that gave it some credence is that, when and where he grew up, it wasn’t counted anything to be proud of, so he kind of had to pry the truth out of some reluctant older relatives when he was a kid and the interest never left him.

      Then again, he spent the rest of his genealogical time trying to prove we were part Jewish (no luck so far as I know), so who knows?

      Anyway, he gave me an interest in the subject, which may be why I’ve followed Warren’s story more closely than I otherwise would ever since she came on the national scene. The real advice I’d give her now is the same advice I’d have given her when this first came up–the old saw about when you’re in a hole, stop digging.

      • 1. I like Warren, but agree with you about stop digging. She may actually have killed her chances for 2020 because Americans love childish things like this.

        2. If Trump had any tact or class, he’d pay the million dollars to Warren’s named charity.

        3. Of course, maybe he doesn’t have a million dollars.

        4. Oh, right … Putin or the Sawdees would cover him.

  3. What I’m missing is why it would have mattered either way if she’d possessed American Indian genes (or Oriental genes, if you go back even farther in time — or any other). I grew up in New Mexico after a childhood in New York, i.e. from one “melting pot” — something like “beehive” is actually more accurate — to another. No Indian classmates or friends who took an interest in politics ever cared about fractional ancestry, but rather, what those who make such decisions would have done with the Indian reservations, or one of Albuquerque’s most esteemed colleges, the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute. As you can imagine, the legislative sovereignty of such entities are sticking points around here.

    I guess you’re right — people (not only Americans, unfortunately) like to haggle over irrelevant details. Buffy from Sesame Street for President!

    • It became a big political deal in her first senatorial run (2012 I think) because she had used her “Native American” ancestry to gain advantage with various places (like Ivy League schools) which sometimes privilege minority hiring. (Harvard, which has since denied that her minority status had anything to do with her hiring, claimed for years that she was the first Woman of Color on their law school faculty.)

      Might have died with her winning that race…except she’s been touted as possible Presidential timber ever since. That made her a national figure and led, inevitably, to some back and forth with Trump in 2016, when he began calling her Pocahontas. (One wag on Twitter yesterday said her Indian ancestry was so far back, Pocahontas might be the ancestor she’s looking for.)

      You’re right of course. In a sane world none of this ever would have mattered or even come up. We, alas, live in this world.

      In the spirit of which I must thank you for identifying Cher’s running mate!

      Cher/Buffy 2020. Unbeatable!

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